Chemicals, Kids and what we as parents butt-up against as we try to raise healthy children in a toxic world.
We ordered a kids meal for Adiva on our flight over to New Zealand for Christmas. We were initially reluctant given the notoriously bad quality of food on planes, and usually opt to bring our own food (or Jase and I often fast for the duration of the trip), but Adiva wanted to order a meal and have the experience of eating a meal on the plane ‘just like everyone else’. So we ordered her a meal.
She found it a very funny meal.
‘Hey, its all kind of the same colour’, she said of first impressions, ‘Kind of grey whitish’.
‘And mum, what is this?’ she said picking up a chicken nugget that was immersed in the mashed potato and cauliflower puree.
She ate the cheese and crackers and the chocolate.
I must admit, I am still confounded by the western model of ‘kids meals’. Not just on airlines, but in restaurants and café’s. Somehow being a kid means that you qualify for more processed, low nutrient, high sugar and fat, less diverse, meals than if you are an adult. Why do we think that children will eat a chicken nugget instead of chicken? Fish-fingers instead of fish? Boxed cereal instead of Bircher muesli? Chips instead of potatoes? Syrupy fruit cups instead of fruit?
Historically, children have usually been the first ones to select from the choicest part of the meal. This practice acknowledged their growing bodies and need for special nutrients. Where did that tradition go? What happened that children now get the least choicest meals?
Sure we may need to cater for palates that are mild, might eat more frequently and with smaller portions, but we surely can do better than this.
‘But I don’t see that it is the restaurants responsibility’ a friend of mine argues. ‘It’s a business after all, and the return has to be worth the time and money invested in offering any product. Typical kids menus have evolved to what they are today as a result of what sells’.
So who’s responsibility is it? And surely there is an ethical issue about food being less about making profits and more about nutrition and growing the next generation of healthy kids?
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